[cc-licenses] Regarding SA and "strong copyleft" question
hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Mon Mar 5 12:07:06 EST 2007
Greg London wrote:
> Almost none of the lessons of open hardware apply to software
> or art or multimedia works. Hardware is a very odd duck.
> The thing is that copyright applies to the description of
> hardware, but not the implementation. The description of
> some logic in Verilog can be covered by copyright, but when
> you implement that logic in an ASIC, the ASIC doesn't count
> as a "derivative" of the original work. In the asic, it's
> all about the functionality, and there really is no expression.
Sorry, but no -- this makes no sense. A piece of paper with ink on it is
"hardware". So is a book. A CD-ROM definitely is, etc. Yet printing and
copying to disks is considered a "copying" process.
More interestingly, consider photo-negatives and lithograph plates. They
are not literal copies of the original, yet they still are considered to
be copies of the information.
A factory-mask ROM containing a software operating system (firmware) is
identical in principle to an ASIC: an unchangeable electrical circuit
embodied in silicon wafers etched (a printing process).
Printed circuit boards are produced by an etching process which is
literally a "printing" process (hence the name). The same is true of chips.
In fact, there is *no* hard line between "copies" of "information" and
"implementations" of "designs".
If there is a legal line drawn between these things, it is an arbitrary
one with no sound basis in engineering process or common sense.
>From an abstract point of view, one could claim that only "non-creative"
processes count as "copying" (this is suggested under US law by the
ruling that a flat-on photograph of a painting in a museum is a "mere
copy", and therefore not copyrightable). So what's "non-creative"? ISTM
that the fact that a machine can make the copies without human creative
activity is sufficient. But with modern factory automation, that
includes a lot of stuff -- CNC machines and pick-and-place robots can
make a lot of manufacturing completely automated.
Or is it the 2D nature of printed materials that makes them
copyrightable? (That seems improbable).
Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com
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